Many things fade away with time. Even good memories. But by doing special family things that are dear to your heart, you can at least create Christmas memories that you hope will be remembered fondly by your family, even decades later. What better time than now to think of it?
I’m into my mid-Forties but I still vividly remember Christmas time when I was a boy. Some of the smells, sounds, emotions, excitement, and sights are still so fresh in my memory, that it feels like it was last year. But in reality, more than 3 decades have gone by. What did my parents do, that I still have fond memories of my childhood Christmas’s?
Growing up in India in the late 70s and early 80s in a middle class, single income family, I’m sure my parents were financially stretched during Christmas time. Most families did not have the resources, gadgets or conveniences like we have today. But the secret is my parents did their best with what little resources they had, just to make my siblings and me happy. They wanted those few days of the Christmas season to be special for us. to stand out from the remaining 355 days. And they did it year after year, till we grew out of it. They wanted us to remember our childhood Christmas’s for life. And I’m sure this is the experience of many readers of this blog.
All good things we received, we like to pass on to the next generation. But unfortunately, our modern lives have so many constraints that either prevent us or make us lukewarm to the task of creating memories for our kids.
So to encourage all of us to do something special this Christmas, I have listed out a few things we can do, especially to make our children feel happy and special.
1. Setup a Crib, Christmas tree, Star and lights:
This is a straightforward idea. No rocket science. Just needs your time and energy. Especially do this if you have children 2-10 years old. It will have a long time impact. I just now asked my 17-year-old, what does she remember of her childhood Christmas’s and she said decorating the tree, putting up the lights, star, and crib. As a family tradition, we set up on 1st December every year. It’s sad that many homes do not set up a Crib with the Nativity scene anymore.
2. Make traditional Christmas sweets at home:
I think most families have abandoned this. I can understand it’s physically tough as well as demanding on time. Families have shrunk in sizes so helping hands are few. Kids are busy with their gadgets and not willing to help. I clearly remember my childhood Christmas, with all of us sitting in a circle and making Christmas sweets, till late in the night and Carols playing on the cassette player.
Even now, making Christmas sweets at home is our family tradition. Sonia has continued every year of our married life, till this day, because her parents did it too. These are fond memories we passionately want to pass on to our kids.
3. Buy actual physical Christmas cards and post them:
In the old days, physical cards were the only means of wishing loved ones who were far away. It was so exciting to receive Christmas cards. We used to hang the cards we received, on a decorative string across the Living room. They were part of the decorations. Cards are available even today. At least buy a few for your really close family and post them. It’s a novelty these days, so I’m sure your kids will remember this “dumb” idea because the norm is to send wishes through gadgets.
4. Visit friends and family or have them over:
In my childhood, Christmas day lunch was a fixed ritual. Every year we had a very close family visit us and stay over for lunch. This went on for years. Same family, same conversations, same love……..year after year, for many years. There was no need to formally invite them or ask them if they were coming. They unfailingly turned up. And we were prepared to host them. Many nostalgic memories are still attached to Christmas day lunches. Have someone close over for lunch. Fix that routine for as many years as you can. Make it a tradition.
5. Go to Church: No Christmas without Christ:
Its a cliche – Jesus is the reason for the season. But it’s the truth. Don’t forget whose birthday it is and He will acknowledge you. Let the Church service be the highlight of your Christmas. Everything else will fall in place. Wouldn’t that be a memorable Christmas?
6. Attend the lighting of the Christmas tree in your church or community:
The days that lead up to Christmas can be very exciting. You can start building up the festive spirit a week or two in advance by attending events like Lighting of the Christmas Tree in your Parish or community. In St. Mary’s Dubai, the Filipino community puts up a giant Christmas Tree made up of thermocol pieces shaped like stars. Families could sponsor these stars in exchange for their names written on them. During the season, people flock to the Tree in hundreds to search the Star having their names.
7. Take the smallies to see Santa:
Even if you don’t like Santa, include him during Christmas for the sake of your little ones. A family photo with Santa and his crib would add to the Christmas cheer.
8. Visit the parish crib after Mass during the Chrismas season:
If you’re Catholic, you will be familiar with the tradition of cribs in the Church compound. Take your kids to the crib after attending Mass and tell them the Nativity story. Bring the story of the birth of Jesus alive with storytelling in front of the crib. Leave the rest to their imagination. The costlier option is to make a trip to the Holy Land (Israel) and walk on the same land where the Christmas story unraveled.
9. Cook one signature dish every year:
Christmas lunch and dinner is usually a lavish affair. Mums go all out to cover the dining table end to end, with tasty food. It’s also good to try out different and new dishes every year. However, try to retain one dish as your family trademark. Let that dish be in your spread every year. Mum used to make a stuffed grilled chicken. She actually stitched back the chicken with needle and thread after stuffing it with a delicious sweetish filling. That was decades back but I can still get the taste when writing this article.
10. Reach out to at least one needy family:
Those who can afford to do some or all of the above 9 things are indeed blessed. But there are many more who are unfortunate. If you see with your eyes, you will spot one such family close to you. Reach out to them, along with your whole family, especially with your kids. I think this is the best lesson in generosity and charity that you can teach your kids. Christmas makes the act all the more meaningful and memorable.
These are some of the things, my parents did during Christmas time. One more thing; don’t forget to play Christmas carols. Music plays a big role in preserving memories. To sum up, in a few words, this list sounds retro and may not appeal to millennials but I think all the activities mentioned here have the potential to create lifelong joyful memories, not just fleeting moments of happiness.
Have a good, blessed and holy Christmas.
How do you plan to spend Christmas 2018? Have you thought about that one thing which will be remembered forever?
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